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Finding confidence

Between PhDs at work we have a saying, quoting our former director, professor Chris Vissers: “PhD is about developing your judgment”. It even part of our family jokes, since Robert and me got into dating just after his PhD party (so, after a couple of years working next door to my office he finally had his judgment right 🙂

I always felt Chris was right, but over last month I had an opportunity to experience it.

Over last couple of years I’d frequently fall into “low dips of the PhD research” – loosing motivation, believe in my topic, confidence that what I want to do with my PhD research would actually be accepted methodology-wise…

My post about a year ago is pretty much about it:

Today, discussing some of my methodological struggles with a visiting professor I’ve heard once again “if you believe it should be like that just do it like that”. I’ve heard it so many times during my research, but today I looked at it differently – as far as I’m my own source of doubts the process of looking for confirmations from others will last endlessly.

The world is so multifaceted that there always be places of not fitting in, always a space for an improvement. If you write for a feedback there is always a chance of unhappy readers.

I knew it all the way along, but I didn’t really felt that way. I felt lost, struggling with too many fields to comply and methodological boundaries that couldn’t stretch. It also didn’t help that my interests didn’t align well with the expertise of my PhD supervisors, so although I’ve got general support of what I’m doing and a lot of good criticism, I didn’t have as much “thinking along” collaboration as I needed then.

Suddenly things changed. I finally realised that the boundaries I imagined were in my own head and it was only up to me to deal with them. Something flipped inside and I found lost confidence. Then I’ve got in the flow…

I’m trying to figure out what have triggered those changes.

First, I guess, I just became ready to accept them, something to do with my “PhD maturity”, “developing judgement” topic-wise and methodology-wise.

Then, the time off played a role. Once I sorted out shifted priorities and realised that I’m not prepared to became a full-time mom, I knew that if I spent time away from Alexander I should spend it well and make the most out of it. I also realised, during an informal dinner with one of my supervisors, discussing something completely different, that despite all the criticism that I was getting, he actually believed that I was doing a good scientific work.

Or may be I just had my dose of PhD struggling and scientific gods decided that it’s time to stop that and just get work done.

I don’t know, but I’m pretty happy with it 🙂

Archived version of this entry is available at http://blog.mathemagenic.com/2007/07/02.html#a1919; comments are here.

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